Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.
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Why: There are probably more critters creeping (and flying, and even swimming) in the world's deserts than you realize, and this preserve proves the point.
What: The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, opened in 1970, is a 1,200-acre zoo and botanical garden that's devoted to portraying life in the world's deserts. There's a reptile show; there are jaguar, leopard and cheetah chats; and the animals include a tortoise, a python, longhorn cattle, bobcats, foxes, Gila monsters and coyotes.
For $5, you can feed a giraffe (warning: long tongue). For $6, beginning in the fall, you can briefly ride a camel. You might spot an elusive bighorn sheep on the neighboring slopes. And you'll certainly see the model railroad. It's not flora or fauna, but it's surely an epic project, with more than 3,300 feet of track and miniature historic scenes including the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a California logging town and Mt. Rushmore.
Where: 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, 124 miles east of downtown L.A.
How much: General admission is $19.95. For children age 3-12, it's $9.95.
Info: The Living Desert